HERRIMAN, Utah (ABC4) — A Granite School District police officer is applauded for his heroic actions last Saturday when he saved a man from a burning home in Herriman just before it collapsed.
Officer Philip Afonso was on his way home after a day of running errands when he noticed “heavy black smoke” coming from the area near Sentinel Ridge Blvd. and 14300 South in Herriman. He rushed to the scene and found smoke billowing from a flaming garage.
“It was just black with dark heavy smoke,” Afonso said. “The garage was already starting to meltdown; the flames were really heavy and there was nobody on the street just yet. Judging by the nature of the fire, the fire had been going on for a while, but I doubt anyone was aware of it because it had started in the garage.”
Afonso sprinted into action: He went into the townhome attached to the garage and searched for anyone who may be inside the residence. A man in his 30s reportedly heard Afonso’s calls and came down from the second floor.
According to a press release by the Granite School District, the man was at first confused by Afonso’s presence but was later surprised to find his garage in flames. The man initially thought his son and roommate may be home as well, but a quick search revealed that he was the only one home.
“There was lots of smoke, and it was really hot and I told the man ‘We’re leaving – we’re getting out,’” Afonso said.
Afonso could hear popping noises and small explosions from the garage while he was clearing the home. After he got the man out, he went to call 911, and that was when he saw the garage explode and the second floor of the home collapse.
“Had I not arrived when I did and helped that man out of the house, it’s likely he wouldn’t have made it out alive,” Afonso said.
Unified Fire Authority crews arrived around 11:30 a.m. and began to contain the blaze. The fire reportedly extended to the attic space, but it was quickly extinguished.
Afonso was later treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation.
“I know what my job means, and I know what it entails, but nobody can prepare you until you actually experience what it means to do something for someone else and that your life might be on the line,” Afondo said. “It enlightened me knowing what my job means and I’m honored to do it.”
According to the Granite School District, Afonso has worked as a school resource officer for two years. He graduated from Skyline High School in 2014.